Each month we are highlighting three of our employees by having them share everything from their personal motto to their favorite architect to what’s on their bucket list. We are hoping this gives you a glimpse into the people of Lawrence Group.
When stripped down, music isn’t so different from design—silence the blank canvas, the instrument, the chosen design utensil, and as with any creative endeavor, always the mind behind it all, reeling with possibilities.
At their best, both carry a certain universality. A relatable song, a familiar space—both lend a greater sense of connectedness to those around us. The ideal composition, like a well-executed design, feels so natural to the consumer that it becomes difficult to actively notice what’s so pleasing about it. I guess it’s sort of paradoxical in that sense—each element meticulously crafted, yet somehow culminating to produce something that appears effortless in its composition. The intuition and skill required to achieve such an effect continues to routinely astound me, and I often find myself pondering the nature of inspiration, searching for the foundation of what it takes to create something new. I suppose there’s not really an objective truth to it, but for me, it always goes back to music.
Though it’s fairly common to search for inspirational content somewhere within your own medium, music has this bizarre, near-transcendent quality to it that seems to improve one’s output across all mediums. There’s a particular type of music to enhance every activity—“Eye of the Tiger” for your daily workout, some instrumental stuff if you’re attempting to focus, and, most importantly, that one Springsteen song you belt out on every road trip. Point is, music can often serve as an integral counterpart to existence. I find it has this endless ability to complement and enhance day-to-day life, and perhaps when it comes to our creative endeavors, we sometimes take it for granted. When performing any creative activity, our carefully selected assortment of tunes provides some loose form of escapism. While plugged into Nina Simone’s greatest hits, it becomes easier to attain an effective, lasting creative rhythm. Suddenly, you can’t hear the sound of the radiator turning on and off in its habitually tedious 15-minute cycles, nor the shrill beeps and ominous cranks of the elevator as it travels up and down. Lost within the illusion of your own personally catered universe, I suspect a creative endeavor may begin. Pretty neat.
Hard to believe that April is almost here. After enjoying some time off for the holidays, we hit the ground running fast in January, and it’s been a bit of a blur since. But, in between all the deadlines, we managed to get out and about in the first quarter. Here’s a look at a few of those fun, extracurricular activities:
In January, Lawrence Group sponsored the 13th annual St. Louis Business Journal Women’s Conference, which attracted nearly 1,000 business leaders. Principal Becky Egan and I staffed our exhibit booth, while almost a dozen other LG architects, designers, managers and leaders were able to take advantage of the great speakers and networking opportunities at the conference. During the opening ceremonies, CFO Laura Conrad represented Lawrence Group on-stage with other sponsoring organizations.
Two LGers also took time out to speak at local events in January. CEO Steve Smith presented an education workshop for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) St. Louis on January 10th, and Micah Gray, our digital practice manager, spoke at the St. Louis Chapter of the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) on the pros and cons of the use of drones and lasers for construction estimating.
In Austin, Principal Earl Swisher, Associate Director Julie Steffens and I enjoyed a beautiful night out at the Sam Houston State University Department of Agricultural Sciences “Honoring Traditions, Creating Futures” dinner.
February was career fair mania. Our architects and designers kicked it off at Iowa State and ended up at Kansas State meeting lots of curious students and sharing what it’s like to work at Lawrence Group. In February, Monica Conners and I also attended the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Leadership Summit in Tucson, Arizona. The summit was filled with lots of great networking and leadership training.
This month, Associate Director Sharon Henderson and Senior Associate Lisa Morrison presented “The Science of Workplace” at the International Facility Management Association (IFMA)’s Facility Fusion 2018 Conference and Expo in Chicago, Illinois. On the 15th, Steve Smith also spoke to attendees at the Building Owners and Managers (BOMA) St. Louis March luncheon about the City Foundry STL development.
So, what’s next? On April 4th, stop by our booth at the annual Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) St. Louis Prime Time Event: Diversity Outreach at the Sheet Metal Workers Hall. On April 10th, it’s the Chouteau Greenway Design Competition Community Kickoff Day at The Sheldon. On April 19th, our creative (and competitive) LGers will be watching their car in the annual construction industry’s Pinewood Derby at the MOTO Museum. Hope to see you out and about soon!
It is only natural to think about family and togetherness this time of year. Something about road trips, a big meal, flag football games, and naps always reminds me of what to be thankful for at home. The downtime during the holidays also gives me a chance to relax and reflect on my work family.
My career in construction started at 15 years old. My uncle got me a job with a residential plumbing company working in the shop. My first summer was filled with stocking plumbing fittings, unloading trucks, cutting gas pipe, making deliveries and installing drain tile and sump pumps. I started that summer with little clue of what I would be doing for the rest of my life and finished it knowing in my heart what I was going to do for a career. I fell in love with construction, and that band of 12 plumbers I met that summer became my first work family. Over the next seven summers and a few college semesters, I had long reunions with my first work family and built many fond memories of my time as a residential plumber.
rise in the city is a unique art event created to catalyze social enterprises in Africa, featuring an artwork competition, exhibition and auction. The concept began with splitting Manhattan into 100 virtual blocks; leading artists, designers and architects were then invited to create a work of art representing a block of the city. The challenge was to get inspired by Lesotho. One could reference the white, blue and green colors of its national flag, incorporate the traditional blankets or famous Basotho hat, or even re-interpret the traditional Litema patterns that adorn Lesotho’s vernacular buildings. All proceeds from the event go towards the construction of an accommodation block for an orphanage in Lesotho. Additionally, proceeds will fund entrepreneurship training for orphanage staff to promote the development of income-generating activities and reduce aid dependency.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or more commonly referred to as “drones,” are a somewhat new and emerging technology, especially in the field of architecture. As prices of this technology fall while its features and capabilities increase, we are starting to see the benefit of being able to utilize UAS’s in house. As with most emerging technology, the rules and regulations surrounding drones are relatively new, especially when you are dealing with something as controversial as a flying camera. Part of dealing with some of the red tape surrounding commercial drone use is gaining your Part 107 certification.
Lawrence Group recently launched its Instagram account and celebrated with a company launch party to get people excited and on board to share their behind-the-scenes project details, silly moments and an overall glimpse into what makes the culture and work of Lawrence Group unique. Our team threw a space-themed launch party for the start of our blog in 2015, and we wanted to top the level of excitement among employees for our second go-around. The “InstaParty” successfully launched our new Instagram account. Here are some tips I recommend for marketing teams looking to boost internal excitement and engagement when it comes to new social media for their company:
New York City, 7:00 AM, the 2-hour road trip ahead of us would allow plenty of time to soak in the gradual transition from the Manhattan skyline to the rural landscape of eastern Pennsylvania. Watching the sun climb behind our white Suburban (which had become our mobile office for the day) we exited the Lincoln Tunnel and turned our conversation and thoughts to what lay ahead; the town of New Hope and home of woodworker, George Nakashima.
Everyone can remember the first time they heard about the work of George Nakashima. For some, this is in the trenches of design school, for others it is through curious self-initiated investigation, and for many this introduction is given in moments of serendipity over a dinner table or chance encounter with one of Mr. Nakashima’s wooden masterpieces. For almost everyone though, the name “George Nakashima” brings to mind a remarkable design heritage and a seemingly endless wealth of timeless inspiration. For the nine of us in our fully loaded SUV, a rare opportunity for a private tour of the Nakashima Foundation was a long-awaited adventure.
I can’t express enough the wealth of knowledge that the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference provides. I’d like to give a shout out to UMSL Business for putting on such a rich learning experience, and give a thank you to Spectrum Reach, the conference sponsor. If you haven’t already, take a look at my latest post, “Top Takeaways from the 2017 Midwest Digital Marketing Conference,” which outline the key pieces of knowledge I learned from the 2017 conference. Thinking of attending next year? Here is my first-timer advice:
The 2017 Midwest Digital Marketing Conference marked UMSL’s third year hosting the event and my first year in attendance. I learned a lot about what it is like to attend a large conference like this and a lot about the changing digital marketing landscape. Here are some of the key insights I took away from the conference.
- Digital marketing should be about making connections, not just making contact.
This one may seem obvious, but it never hurts to have a reminder. The key to a successful social media presence is making meaningful connections with your audience, not just spewing information at them that you perceive to be relevant. It’s better to stop and understand what your audience really wants to see and respond to, rather than playing a guessing game. Two pieces of advice to keep in mind to help you stay on track and build connections are (1) say it, don’t spray it and, (2) when it comes to content, place value on quality over quantity.
(Inspired by Phil Cara of Buzzfeed)